You can link to the transcript of today’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing from Real Clear Politics. There’s lots of interesting stuff, but I thought the Attorney General’s repetition of the limited scope of the NSA program was significant, in light of the Washington Post’s apparently incorrect article yesterday:
Sir, I believe that General Hayden, the deputy director of intelligence, yesterday, confirmed that before there is any interception, there is a determination made by an intelligence officers at NSA that, in fact, we have reasonable grounds to believe that one party in the communication is a member or agent of Al Qaida or an affiliated terrorist organization.
And we do have a great number of checks in place to ensure, I am told, by the operations folks that, to a great degree of certainty, a high degree of confidence, that these calls are solely international calls.
I also liked Senator Grassley’s comments on the New York Times’ role in educating our enemies:
GRASSLEY: I’m going to start with something that’s just peripheral to the issues we’re on, but it does deal with our national security, and it’s the leak of this information to the New York Times. And I’m greatly concerned about this. And these leaks could be putting our nation’s safety into serious jeopardy.
Could you tell us what is being done to investigate who leaked this national security information and whether the Department of Justice will initiate a prosecution of an individual leaking the information?
GONZALES: Senator, we have confirmed the department has initiated an investigation into possible crimes here. And consistent with department practice, I’m not going to talk much further about an ongoing investigation.
Obviously, we have to look at the evidence, and if the evidence shows that a crime has been committed, then obviously we’ll have to make a decision about moving forward with a prosecution.
GRASSLEY: And I don’t blame you for this, but I don’t hear as much about public outcry about this leak as I did about Valerie Plame and the White House disclosures of her — or presumed disclosures of her identify of a CIA agent. And to me that’s a two-bit nothing compared to this sort of issue that we have before us of this information being leaked to the press.